Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday, 18th May, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Note: This meeting will be streamed live to the SKDC YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/SouthKestevenDC 

Items
No. Item

88.

Register of attendance and apologies for absence

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    Minutes:

    An apology for absence had been received from Councillor Dr Peter Moseley. Following a register of attendance, it was confirmed that all other Cabinet Members were present.

     

    The Leader welcomed Members to the meeting, which was the first Cabinet meeting to be held at the Council Offices in over a year. It was confirmed that all meetings would be held in the Council Chamber moving forward, with the exception of Full Council, until such a time when social distancing was not required.

     

    Meetings of Full Council would be held at the Meres Leisure Centre, as the Council Chamber was not large enough to facilitate a Covid-secure meeting venue for all Councillors. Any members of the public wishing to attend meetings were encouraged to notify the Council in advance to support health and safety arrangements.

89.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 132 KB

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    Minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2021.

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting held on 16 March 2021 were agreed as a correct record of the decisions taken.

90.

Disclosure of Interests (if any)

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    Minutes:

    No interests were disclosed. The Leader asked for the Monitoring Officer to provide advice on the position to be taken for Cabinet Members who were also directors of LeisureSK Ltd, in relation to agenda item 4.

     

    The Monitoring Officer advised that there would be no conflict of interests for any Cabinet Members who also held positions as directors of LeisureSK Ltd, a wholly Council-owned company. The position of director was a non-paid position and as such, was not a pecuniary interest and Members would be able to vote on item 4 (LeisureSK Ltd Management Fee).

91.

LeisureSK Ltd Management Fee pdf icon PDF 217 KB

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    Report from the Deputy Leader of the Council.

    Decision:

    Decision:

     

    1.    Cabinet accepts the award of grant funding from Sport England in the sum of £320,597 in order to support the reopening of the leisure facilities.

    2.    Cabinet agrees that the additional funding should be provided to LeisureSK Ltd to fund the business rates liability of £148,000 for financial year 2021/22.

    3.    Cabinet agrees to increase the budget allocation of £500,000 by an additional £108,125 making a total maximum budget allocation of £608,125.

    4.    Cabinet agrees to delegate authority to the Director of Growth and Culture, in consultation with the S151 Officer to determine the final amount of management fee payment due to LeisureSK Ltd subject to a full reconciliation of the income and expenditure of the company.

     

    Considerations/reasons for decision:

     

    ·       Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council on the LeisureSK Ltd Management Fee.

    ·       A budget not exceeding £500,000 agreed at Council on 26 November 2020 to support the management fee required by LeisureSK Ltd.

    ·       The Annual Budget report presented to Council on 1 March 2021, with the expectation that the approved fee would need to be amended.

    ·       Leisure centres remained closed until 12 April 2021.

    ·       Steps taken to mitigate the financial impact of the extended closure.

    ·       A review of LeisureSK Ltd’s first year of trading, commissioned from Sport and Leisure Consultancy Ltd.

    ·       A new level of management fee required as identified by the review, for the period January 2021 to March 2022.

    ·       £320,597 awarded to the Council from the Sport England National Leisure Recovery Fund.

    ·       A requirement for £148,000 to be included within the management fee for business rates.

    ·       A projected management fee payment of £608,125, requiring a budget amendment of £108,125 to increase the previously allocated budget.

     

    Other options considered:

     

    The Council could choose not to increase the level of support for LesureSK Ltd. However, without the requested increase in support LeisureSK

    Ltd would suffer cashflow problems and may need to cease trading, resulting in the loss of the leisure provision across the District.

     

    Minutes:

    The Deputy Leader of the Council presented the report on the LeisureSK Ltd management fee. The establishment of LeisureSK was considered to have been a success, bringing a marked improvement to leisure services across the District. However, the challenges presented to the leisure industry, due to the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions put in place, meant that 1 in 3 authorities would need to revisit how they operated their leisure facilities.

     

    Further activities had been reintroduced in the Council’s leisure facilities since Monday 17th May 2021 and additional modelling was being undertaken to ensure that the provisions could be maintained moving forward. Cabinet Members highlighted the importance of continuing to lobby the Government for further financial support. 

     

    On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:

     

    1.    To accept the award of grant funding from Sport England in the sum of £320,597 in order to support the reopening of the leisure facilities.

    2.    That the additional funding should be provided to LeisureSK Ltd to fund the business rates liability of £148,000 for financial year 2021/22.

    3.    To increase the budget allocation of £500,000 by an additional £108,125 making a total maximum budget allocation of £608,125.

    4.    To delegate authority to the Director of Growth and Culture, in consultation with the S151 Officer to determine the final amount of management fee payment due to LeisureSK Ltd subject to a full reconciliation of the income and expenditure of the company.

92.

Pilot of Private Rented Sector Insurance Scheme for Lincolnshire pdf icon PDF 275 KB

    Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning.

     

    Appendix 1 of this report is exempt under paragraphs 3 and 5, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    Decision:

     

    1.    Cabinet approves the introduction of a pilot insurance-backed rent guarantee and property damage liability scheme using the product developed by Help2Rent on the following basis:

     

    a) For a pilot period of no more than 12 months during 2021/22;

    b) That no more than 50 client referrals are made with a maximum expenditure of £29,200; and

    c) That a detailed report on the outcomes and value-for-money of the scheme is submitted for Cabinet’s consideration at the conclusion of the pilot to determine if the scheme is continued.

     

    2.Cabinet notes the funding for such a scheme will be provided through the Homelessness Prevention Grant awarded to the Council for the 2021/22 financial year.

     

    Considerations/reasons for the decision:

     

    ·       The report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning on the Private Rented Sector Insurance Scheme.

    ·       The Council cannot meet the housing needs of the district using solely its own housing stock.

    ·       The Council’s duties under the relevant homelessness legislation to provide accommodation and to discharge its homelessness prevention

    duties.

    ·       The provision within the Localism Act 2011 allowing local authorities to discharge such duties into private sector rented accommodation.

    ·       Additional guarantees sought by landlords, such as rent and

    property damage payment guarantees.

    ·       Changes to the welfare benefits system leading to many private landlords being reluctant to take homeless households and other referrals from Councils.

    ·       The ‘Help2Rent’ bespoke insurance policy cover includes Tenant’s Liability Insurance and Landlord’s Insurance, to cover losses from non-payment of rent and property damage.

     

    Options considered:

     

    1.    Continue as at present. This would result in continued difficulties in housing people within the private rented market and would place increased pressure upon our housing register, Council housing stock and other social housing registered provider stock.

    2.    Purchase of the Help2Rent insurance policies. Help2Rent’s insurance policies are a niche offering, that are considered to offer good value for money. They have been designed and tested with specific local authority needs in mind.

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning presented the report on the pilot of a Private Rented Sector Insurance Scheme. The trial scheme was being undertaken across Lincolnshire and would provide guarantors to cover losses from non-payment of rent and property damage. This would allow the Council to use private sector rented accommodation to discharge its duties under homelessness legislation.    

     

    On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:

     

    To approve the introduction of a pilot insurance-backed rent guarantee and property damage liability scheme using the product developed by Help2Rent on the following basis:

     

    a) For a pilot period of no more than 12 months during 2021/22;

    b) That no more than 50 client referrals are made with a maximum expenditure of £29,200; and

    c) That a detailed report on the outcomes and value-for-money of the scheme is submitted for Cabinet’s consideration at the conclusion of the pilot to determine if the scheme is continued.

93.

Procurement of Improvement Works to HRA Properties to include Off Gas Heating Solutions pdf icon PDF 304 KB

    Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning.

    Additional documents:

    Decision:

    Decision:

     

    1.    Cabinet notes the current position in relation to the energy efficiency of the Council’s housing stock in “off-grid” areas of the District, and options around works to improve the properties;

    2.    Cabinet notes the award of £926k Green Homes Grant to the Council and the use of the Chief Executive’s delegated powers to accept the Grant on behalf of the Council; and

    3.    Cabinet approves the award of a contract to Phoenix Gas Services Ltd to undertake the installation of electrical heating and renewable technology to Council owned dwellings for a three year period (with a potential one year extension) to a maximum total value of £7,492,752.00.

     

    Considerations/reasons for decision:

     

    ·       The report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning on the procurement of the off-gas heating contract.

    ·       The Council’s commitment in its Corporate Plan 2020-2023 to provide “Housing that meets the needs of all residents”.

    ·       The Council has identified around 1200 properties in its housing stock in rural locations with no mains gas supply.

    ·       The Council will receive a Green Homes Grant of £926k (£850k capital grant and £76.5k project/admin costs), increasing the budget available in 2021/2022 from £3,885,000 to £4,811,000.

    ·       The delegated decision made by the Chief Executive to formally accept the allocation of grant funding.

    ·       The deadline for spend of the Grant is 31 December 2021.

    ·       Three contractors expressed an interest in undertaking the works, with Phoenix Gas Services Ltd ranked overall 1st place in Lot 7 and 2nd

    place in Lot 9.

     

    Options considered:

     

    1.    Do nothing – this option was discounted as currently, the minimum energy efficiency standards allowed for rented properties are a minimum of an E rating on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). From 2025, a rented property will need to have a certification rating of C or above to ensure homes are more energy-efficient and to reduce carbon waste. As a registered Social Housing provider the Council exempt from these regulations but aspires to meet them.

    2.    Use alternative tender and procurement options – alternative procurement methods were discounted due to the tight deadlines for spend of the Green Homes Grant.


    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning introduced the report to procure improvement works to HRA properties to include off gas heating solutions. He highlighted the importance of looking after the Council’s existing housing stock and ensuring that tenants were provided for. Stock condition reports were being undertaken and would identify a programme of works to meet the needs of tenants and make full use of the Greener Homes grant funding.

     

    Following a question from another Cabinet Member, it was confirmed that the improvement works under consideration were separate to the contract for plumbing and heating in Council properties. Officers were also asked if the Council could be confident that the works would be delivered. It was confirmed that the works had been planned with a focus on deliverability, as any unused Greener Homes grant funding would need to be returned. The Chief Executive added that a team was being developed to ensure delivery.

     

    On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:

     

    To approve the award of a contract to Phoenix Gas Services Ltd to undertake the installation of electrical heating and renewable technology to Council owned dwellings for a three year period (with a potential one year extension) to a maximum total value of £7,492,752.00.

94.

Options for Legal Services pdf icon PDF 209 KB

    Report of the Leader of the Council.

    Decision:

    Decision:

     

    To approve the recommendation to join the established and successful Lincolnshire Legal Services Partnership and retain the existing staff.

     

    Considerations/reasons for decision:

     

    ·       The report of the Leader of the Council on the options for SK Legal Services.

    ·       The team has reduced in size, whilst requirements for legal support have increased.

    ·       The Corporate Plan 2020-2023 places significant emphasis on strong and robust decision making.

    ·       The full range of expertise required by the Council cannot be provided by a small in-house team.

     

    Options considered:

     

    1.    Fully outsource to Lincolnshire Legal Services (LSL).

    This would involve outsourcing the entire legal function to LSL, leaving no legal staff inside the Council. This is not considered ideal, as there are day to day legal matters that it is more efficient to provide in

    house such as sealing of contracts, maintaining the deed store, attend at committees, and assist members and officers in day to day queries.

    2.    No change.

    The current model does not cater for all the Council’s legal requirements.

    3.    Build up a fully functioning in house team.

    In order to provide the range of skills and expertise needed, we would need to recruit up to 5 additional lawyers. This would take up to 2 years and it would be more efficient enter into a partnership to source this support.

    4.     Hybrid model.

    This is the recommended option. This model would see LSL delivering the majority of the Council’s legal support, while retaining a small in-house team. LSL would provide certainty and the full range of skills,

    and as the Council would be a full partner, any surplus income would be recycled back to the Council as a partner. The model is efficient as we would only pay for what we use. The existing legal budget would be used in a targeted way, purchasing the right skills and expertise as and when needed.

    Minutes:

    The Leader of the Council presented the report on the options for Legal Services. The  Legal Team had reduced in size over recent years, whilst requirements for legal support had increased. With an ambitious Corporate Plan in place, it was likely that the demand for legal services would remain high and the Council needed to ensure that this could be accommodated to support robust decision-making.

     

    Members gave their experiences of the services provided by Legal Services Lincolnshire and shared confidence that the decision to join the Partnership would be a positive move to improve the legal services available.  

     

    On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:

     

    To approve the recommendation to join the established and successful Lincolnshire Legal Services Partnership and retain the existing staff.

95.

Review of Data Protection Policies pdf icon PDF 231 KB

96.

Key and Non-Key Decisions taken under Delegated Powers pdf icon PDF 146 KB

97.

Representations and questions from Non-Cabinet Members

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    Minutes:

    There were none.

98.

Cabinet Forward Plan 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

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    Report from the Leader of the Council.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cabinet noted the Forward Plan for the period 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022.

99.

Close of the meeting

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    Minutes:

    The meeting closed at 14:38.